Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pumpkin chocolate fleck sugar cookies.

I meant to make these for Halloween.

Actually.. I've been meaning to make sugar cookies for Halloween for at least the past three years, ever since I bought Halloween cookie-cutters at a post-Halloween sale at Crate and Barrel. Those post-holiday sales are so very dangerous. My cookie cutter and cupcake liner collections are proof.

Anywho, as I had written in my last post, I have been doing a whole lot of pumpkin-hankerin' lately. And I wanted to make jack-o-lantern pumpkin sugar cookies that actually tasted like pumpkin. So here's a tried and true sugar cookie recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Carole Walter, altered a bit with a little pumpkin-chocolate pizazz.

These cookies are sugar cookies with a hint of pumpkin -- not anything like pumpkin drop cookies that have more of a cakey texture. Also, I'm pretty particular about my sugar roll-out cookies. They've got to be firm (though not dry), and they've got to hold their shape -- 'cause cookies that spread out into indistinguishable blobs bug me.

But these.. these make me grin.

Pumpkin Chocolate Fleck Sugar Cookies
Adapted from "Classic Sugar Cookies," Great Cookies, Carole Walter

3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (plus more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup finely shaved semisweet chocolate
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

To decorate:
Sparkling white sugar OR
Icing of various colors (made with confectioner's sugar and a bit of milk)

1. Strain together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on medium-low.
3. Beat the egg and vanilla together and mix into the butter-sugar mixture. Add the canned pumpkin. Mix in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined.
4. Measure out about 1/4 the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the chocolate into the dough, being careful to not overwork.
5. Empty out the rest of the dough onto the floured surface and lightly knead the all the dough together three or four times to create a marbled effect. Divide into quarters and shape into four disks. Wrap each disk with plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

6. Using one disk at a time, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut using various cookie cutters and transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Brush tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired.
7. Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and wait a few minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Wait until cookies are completely cool before decorating with icing, if desired.

These were yummy, but I think I'd prefer them just a tad sweeter. I might try adding 1/4 cup brown sugar next time, see what that does.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Summer and fall obsessions.

Hello! I'm slowly resurfacing and it's taken longer than expected. But, here we go. Up and at 'em.

Let's see. I think I still had a few posts left on Japan, but it's friggen' November for Pete's sake. I might do a wrap-up later.

For now: A few summer obsessions that have trickled into fall.

YummyEarth Organic Hot Chili Pops

Particularly, the Chili Mango Mambo pop -- a sweet, fruity sucker with a hot chili kick. And it's organic and natural and made with real, good stuff. Win! I get them at my local Sprouts.

Breyers Rocky Road Ice Cream

I practically lived off this during the hot summer months. I originally thought I liked Breyers ice cream in only strawberry and mint chocolate chip, and that the more traditional, richer ice creams just weren't.. rich enough. But their good ol' rocky road proved me wrong. Maybe it's just 'cause Breyers makes rocky road just the way I like it -- marshmallow swirl instead of whole marshmallows (a pet peeve of mine), chocolate-covered toasted almonds instead of just plain nuts, all in creamy chocolate ice cream. Mmm mm.

Pumpkin and chocolate

Oh, man. I have been craving this combo like mad recently. My boyfriend even offered to stack a brownie on top of a slice of pumpkin pie to help satisfy my craving, and I probably would have eaten it if it weren't for the root canal I had earlier that day.

Terrible experience, by the way, that root canal. I do not recommend it.

Rutabegorz has pretty much saved my life on more than one occasion with its gargantuan iced pumpkin cookie. It is thick and soft, almost cake-like, and my attempts to savor it slowly are always met with utter failure. I only wish chocolate milk was at the ready to wash it down.

The other weekend, I trekked out to Claremont for Some Crust Bakery's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

These are perfection -- the texture emulates a chocolate chip cookie over pumpkin cake, and the chips are always warm and gooey. I wanted to buy a hundred of them, but I walked away with only two. Whyyy did I buy only two?

It's ok though, because the following week I made these:

Pumpkin whoopie pies. Here's the recipe on MarthaStewart.com. When making the cookies, drop the batter in little spoonfuls unless you are planning to undertake whoopie pies the size of burgers.

I have been going pumpkin crazy -- expect future pumpkin posts.